200 boxes of food illegally brought into the country seized near Rugby

A total of 200kg of food was confiscated from the van
A total of 200kg of food was confiscated from the van

Dozens of boxes of food brought into the country illegally from Eastern Europe have been incinerated after being seized by environmental health officers.

The items were discovered in the back of a van stopped at the Crick weighbridge off Junction 18 of the M1 during an operation involving the police and national agencies as well as Daventry District Council (DDC).

A total of 200kg of food including cheese, meat, fish, honey and apples were confiscated from the van and have now been incinerated after no health certificates could be provided to prove they had been produced or imported in line with EU requirements.

The Mercedes Sprinter had been stopped as part of Operation Trivium III – an enforcement exercise aimed at overseas drivers which involved Leicestershire Police, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and DDC.

It was discovered the vehicle, which was more than one tonne overweight, was carrying about 200 boxes and bags of items from Moldova to Moldovan nationals living in Dublin.

The vehicle and its contents had not been inspected or declared at UK customs in Dover or at any other border crossing on its journey from Eastern Europe.

Officers from the Council’s Environmental Health Improvement Team inspected the van and found food items which should have been declared on entry to the EU. The contents of the van were then detained under The Food Safety Act to allow for further investigation.

Lead officer Graham Wilson, senior environment health officer Simon Watson and student environment health officer Mel Glithero inspected all the food detained but no certificates could be provided to show it had been produced or imported in line with EU law, meaning the food could pose a health risk.

The food was seized and incinerated following the operation while the driver and co-driver - both from Moldova - were fined £500 by the police for driving licence and insurance irregularities.

Councillor Mike Warren, responsible for health and housing at Daventry District Council, said: “Diseases such as foot and mouth disease and bird flu can be brought into this country via meat products, while fruit and vegetables may carry pests that can infect plants and vegetables in the UK.

“This can have a devastating effect on livestock, crops and the environment so this is a very pleasing result and a credit to the hard work and diligence of the officers.”